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Trick or Treat? Marketing Myths Busted

Posted by on Oct 31, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Trick or Treat? Marketing Myths Busted

Trick or Treat? Marketing Myths Busted

By: Emmett Eldred

When it comes to marketing your business, there’s a lot of contradictory information out there, and there’s a lot of information that is downright false. To celebrate Halloween, we’re taking a look at some common marketing myths (Tricks) and giving you the information (Treats) you need to correct the record.

 

Trick: I already have reliable clients/customers, so I don’t need to do marketing

Very few businesses would ever say that they don’t want more growth and new customers. But a more common belief among business owners is that customer loyalty and word-of-mouth is all they need to sustain their business and keep it growing. The temptation is understandable. If you don’t need to market, you could probably save a lot of time and money or invest those resources elsewhere in your business.

Treat: Marketing helps you keep the clients/customers you have and make new ones

Have you seen a Coca-Cola advertisement on TV, in print, or on a billboard and wondered why one of the world’s most recognizable brands bothers to market its product when everyone already knows and loves it? You should take that as a lesson: no matter how established your brand, no matter how loyal your clients or customers, you will always need to market.

Why does Coke market? For one thing, there’s Pepsi. If you don’t market, you can be sure that your competition will, and that puts you at risk of losing existing business and missing out on new customers. Why else does Coke market? Because consumers are dynamic: tastes change, values shift, concerns about dieting and sugar wax and wane. Marketing is the best way to make sure you keep track of changes in markets, consumer behavior, the public’s perception of your company and its products.

Chances are, your company is smaller and your brand less iconic than Coca-Cola. If they can find the value in marketing, then so can you! That said, it’s not true that any marketing is better than no marketing. You have to be strategic, disciplined, and goal-oriented about your marketing or your marketing campaign is sure to be sloppy, exhausting, and more expensive than its worth.

 

Trick: Social media takes more time and effort than it’s worth

While many businesses are excited about using social media, many others question its value. Sure, they say, everyone uses social media, but that doesn’t mean people are actually motivated to buy products or services because of what they see when they’re browsing Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For so much work to keep social media accounts up to date, some people see little reward.

Treat: Social Media can pay off with the right strategy

Yes, social media can be a lot of work. And, no, there is no guarantee that simply posting on social media every now and then will drive customers to your website or business location. But if you take the time to develop a thoughtful social media strategy, use analytics to measure the results, and adjust based on what you see, you can count on social media paying off in the long run.

Why? Well, Experian reports that 27% of all user-time on the internet is spent on social media. You have to meet your customers where they are, and your customers are using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. According to an analysis by Hubspot, social media produces double the leads of trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail, and pay-per-click marketing. And those leads turn into results. Hubspot also reports that the lead conversion rate is 13% higher on social media than the average lead conversion rate.

 

Trick: Print is dead

While some business owners question the value of social media, some digital true believers assert that print is totally obsolete. They assert that print media, such as direct mail, ads printed in newspapers and magazines, brochures, and flyers, is expensive, bulky, and inefficient. Most importantly, people believe that consumers don’t bother to read anymore. If all of this was true, print marketing would be a huge waste of money.

Treat: A full suite of marketing materials, including print, pays off

Thankfully, this isn’t true, and incorporating some print material into your marketing strategy is still a productive and wise marketing decision. The key here is trust. Print media is the most trusted type of marketing material. Consumers are skeptical of what they read online and encounter on social media, but 56% of consumers indicate that they are more likely to trust print advertisements than any other sources. And in Oct., 2016, 82% of consumers said that they trust advertising that they see in print, more than any other medium.

Print is also convenient and familiar for your consumer, which leads to more reliable engagement, both in terms of frequency and depth. 70% of Americans think that direct mail is more personal than other ads. And 98% of consumers say that they open all of their mail the same day that it arrives. Think about how often you ignore emails, in comparison. All told, 40% of consumers who receive direct mail or view print advertising will look at the company’s website, and the return on investment on investment for print marketing is 13 to 1.

 

Trick: If you build it, they will come

Many business owners believe that if they take the first step of building a marketing presence—making a website, putting up a sign, making a Facebook page, running an advertisement one time—that everything else will fall into place, new customers will come flocking, and your product or one-off marketing ploy will instantly go viral. Often, this becomes an excuse for writing off marketing altogether, because business owners start a marketing campaign, grow frustrated when it doesn’t seem to bear fruit, and then let the whole marketing field lie fallow.

Treat: Marketing Needs to be Fresh, Frequent, and Flexible

In reality, marketing takes maintenance, and most successful marketing strategies are about long-term payoff, not quick results. We all know that get rich quick schemes don’t work in our personal lives. The same is true of marketing schemes that claim to help businesses get rich quick. And as tantalizing as the hope of going viral may seem, depending on going viral is not a viable business plan.

The best marketing campaigns are consistent and persistent. They create a unified sense of product and brand identity that builds and sustains over time, and they keep grinding even when the short-term results might seem disappointing. At the same time, they are flexible enough to identify when something simply isn’t working and a new approach is needed. Then, they can adjust the strategy without abandoning the campaign entirely. The key is to allow your marketing campaign to bend as the need arises, but never to break entirely.

Successful marketing campaigns are also frequent, both in the sense that new marketing materials are produced often enough to hold a consumer’s attention, but also in the sense that they are produced at regular intervals, which helps you remain disciplined as a marketer or business owner and helps your consumer audience know when they should look for new appeals materials from your company. Ultimately, this helps a marketing campaign feel fresh: if materials are produced infrequently, sporadically, or not at all, they might otherwise feel stale.

 

Trick: More is Always Better

We all have that friend on social media who posts waaaay too much. The same is true of some businesses, who believe that the best approach to marketing is to do as much marketing as they possibly can. This might mean that they update the business’s Facebook page a million times every day. Or, maybe they send out email blast after email blast all day long. Or, they might just not be planning their ads well, so they become plastered on the radio waves, TV, or driving down the street. The theory here is that a super-saturated marketing campaign can become planted in the consumer’s mind, and the more you market, the more likely this is to happen.

Treat: Everything in Moderation

Here’s a quick question: what do you do with that friend on social media that posts way too much? If you’re like me, then you probably hide their posts, or you might just unfriend them or block them altogether if you’re not close to them. Yes, it is true that a little bit of repetition and saturation is smart marketing strategy. Remember, I said up above that frequency is an important aspect of smart marketing strategy.

But the key is moderation, finding the right balance between marketing too rarely and marketing too much. When a sponge becomes supersaturated, it has reached the point when it has absorbed as much water as it possibly can. Pour on any more water, and it will bounce right off the sponge and down the drain. When it comes to super-saturated consumers, any more marketing is just wasted money. Part of having a marketing campaign that feels fresh is making sure that your audience doesn’t grow tired and weary of your appeals. Otherwise, they might start tuning you out altogether. When you allocate resources inefficiently, you risk missing out on new customers by neglecting them and alienating existing customers by abusing them. Find the right balance, and spread your marketing appeals around enough to find balance.

 

Chances are, you didn’t get into your business to do marketing (unless your business is marketing!) Instead, you had a great idea or a unique talent or a real passion, and you found a way to make money with it. But, like it or not, marketing is part of what it takes to run a successful business. Thankfully, we’re here to help! If you feel like marketing is taking you away from time that could be spent running other aspects of your business, or if you’re finding that the demands of marketing are too great or too confusing, then contact Headline Marketing and Communications! We’re here to help with every aspect of your business’s marketing and communications strategy, so you can back to doing what got you into business in the first place. Call 814-946-7499 or send us and email at solutions@headlinemc.com.

Making Time For Social Media

Posted by on Oct 17, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Making Time For Social Media

Making Time For Social Media

By Emmett Eldred

We all know that having a robust social media presence is crucial for running a successful business or nonprofit organization in the 21st century. Social media creates a direct line of communication between you and your customers. Social media is essential for advertising, it helps build a loyal community around your services, and it provides a channel for people to send feedback directly back to you. And, best of all, it’s free!

But we also know that social media can be difficult and time-consuming. The fast-changing nature of the internet can be difficult to keep up with. And it takes a lot of time and effort to write compelling copy and pick out the right images to put online. We all want to have successful social media, but how can we be sure that we’re doing it right? Here are 5 tips for getting the most out of your social media and doing it in the most efficient way possible.

1. Plan Ahead

The secret to a successful social media strategy is to plan out as much as you can ahead of time. Decide how often you want to post and generate ideas about what your posts can say. Whenever possible, write your copy and pick your images ahead of time, and build a calendar of exactly when you want to post. Then, schedule a large batch of posts all at one time. A good benchmark that many businesses use is to plan and schedule one month’s worth of posts at a time. It saves a lot of time to spend an hour scheduling twenty posts all at once rather than spending 10 minutes on twenty individual posts throughout the month.

Of course, sometimes social media involves reacting to things that you can’t predict. Who can forget Oreo’s “Dunking in the Dark” tweet during Super Bowl XLVII? But having a good plan actually enables you to have more flexibility for spontaneous posting. If you have all of your planned postings scheduled, you have more time, energy, and attention to focus on identifying and reacting to moments that will make for compelling spontaneous posts.

2. Develop Routines

Another time-saving strategy is to create routines for yourself that guide your social media use. Routines can help direct both the way you approach social media from one day to the next and how you schedule postings as part of a coherent, long-term strategy.

One of the important functions of social media is the way it documents the fast-changing culture of the internet. No doubt, your followers are watching and participating in trends, memes, topics, and digital practices that constantly wax and wane over social media. The most successful social media accounts know how to surf those trends, and your audience will notice and respond positively if your accounts seem to understand this complicated culture. But therein lies the problem: it’s complicated, and social media is a vast landscape that undergoes constant transformation. As a business owner, you probably have much better uses of your time than tracking what weird thing is happening today online.

Routines can help. Rather than trolling through social media aimlessly, utilize saved searches, lists, and influencers in your industry to quickly gauge the state of social media. If you develop a routine of spending ten minutes each day glancing through bellwether social media accounts and keeping tabs on the topics important your business, you can efficiently and surgically get a sense of the day’s culture, and react accordingly.

And, of course, routines are handy for the rote mechanics of social media. Routines help build muscle-memory so you can post standard material more quickly. Routines in your posting schedule can also help you decide on content more easily. If you have a routine of posting your restaurant’s menu on the first day of each month, then you don’t have to spend time or energy thinking of what you’re going to post for that day.

3. Engage with Your Audience

The internet—and social media especially—is the first communications technology in human history that enables one-to-many and one-to-one communication simultaneously. Using social media, you can reach a broad audience all at once, but you can also hear from individual customers and address their needs in an intimate and personalized way. While social media may feel like a very impersonal and anonymous platform, the best social media accounts succeed at engaging directly with their audience as much as possible.

Keep track of personal messages, comments, and replies that your accounts receives, and respond as much as you can. Of course, remember to always be polite, professional, and helpful. However, you probably shouldn’t engage with comments directed at your account that are vulgar or inappropriate, and you should definitely never respond in kind! But when people have questions, compliments, or complaints, be sure to acknowledge, engage, and follow up. You might win over a potential customer, win back a disgruntled one, or cement the loyalty of a satisfied one. As a bonus, much of this communication is public, so many others might see your helpful engagement and feel endeared.

You can also take one step further and proactively encourage engagement on your page. Encourage followers to share or ask for them to comment about how your post relates to them. Create contests that get people liking, sharing, and commenting on your content. And be sure to follow up when people engage with your page the way you want. At its best, social media isn’t just about content, it’s about community. When you make your page an involved member of the digital community, your social media page will be a success.

4. Analyze

Once you’ve got a good strategy in place, it’s important to keep track of how well that strategy is paying off. You don’t want to spend all this time and thought on how to get the most out of your social media, only to get a lukewarm response from your followers. Make use of the analytics tools on your social media accounts to keep track of which posts succeed and which don’t. Track how many people are seeing your posts and how many people are interacting with them by clicking, liking, commenting, retweeting, etc. Then, adjust accordingly, by emulating your successful posts in your future plans.

And, set goals. Give yourself a target of how much reach you want in a week or how many likes or favorites you want an average post to earn. Tracking analytics is one thing, but tracking analytics against concrete, achievable goals is the best way to keep track of your social media success and motivate you into making important changes.

5. Ask for Help

Still not satisfied with the state of your social media? That’s ok! None of this is easy, and even the best time-saving strategies might not be enough for a busy business owner. Headline Marketing and Communications is proud to offer social media as one of the many specialties of our full-service firm. Take a look at our social media services page, send us an email, or give us a call at 814-946-7499 to learn more about what we can do to help build a robust and successful social media presence for your business or nonprofit organization!

Introducing the Summer Edition of Seasons Magazine

Posted by on Jun 27, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Introducing the Summer Edition of Seasons Magazine

Introducing the Summer Edition of Seasons Magazine

It’s finally here! Yesterday, the summer edition of Blair Senior Services, Inc.’s Seasons magazine was distributed in the Altoona Mirror, and it is still available at senior centers throughout Blair County and at select local businesses. Seasons is a quarterly magazine that explores topics of interest for Blair County seniors and their families. It also discusses many of the useful services that Blair Senior Services, Inc. provides to local seniors, their families, and for people of all ages.

On Page 14, you’ll find the cover story, “No Place Like Home,” which is all about Domiciliary Care, or Dom Care. Dom Care is a home-like living arrangement that helps consumers stay in the community, rather than going to a long-term care facility such as a nursing home. Dom Care is available to adults aged 18 and over who are unable to care for themselves independently. For consumers who need help with daily living, yet don’t require skilled nursing care, Dom Care is an intimate and friendly alternative. Dom Care providers open up their homes and help consumers with routine tasks like bathing, dressing, and grooming. They also provide three meals a day, constant supervision, and they can manage medications and finances. Of course, all Dom Care facilities are inspected annually to ensure health and safety standards, and Dom Care is one of many long-term care options scrutinized by Ombudsmen to ensure that the consumer’s rights are being respected. In this story, you’ll read about Wanda McCarron, a Dom Care provider with twenty years of experience, and the three consumers who live with her, Sandy, Barb, and Mary. You’ll also hear about opportunities to become a Dom Care provider, and the many reasons to consider doing so!

Inside the summer edition of Seasons, you will also find lots of helpful information for seniors. This includes a schedule of events at Blair Senior Services, Inc.’s Senior Centers, so you can be sure to participate in all of the Agency’s terrific summer programming. You’ll also find an editorial from Attorney Jeff Fleming about the need to prepare for your future through estate planning and other legal preparation. And, on page 18, you’ll learn about a Blair Senior Services, Inc. program to help you shop for fresh produce at any of the farmers’ markets in Blair County, including a listing of those markets. While you’re there, be sure to pick up the ingredients you’ll need to enter Blair Senior Services, Inc.’s Treasured Family Recipe Contest! This new contest, whose first winner is announced in Seasons, awards one local senior each month who submits a family recipe. The winner gets a $25 gift card, and the recipe will be shared on Facebook and in the next edition of Seasons.

As a special treat, this edition of Seasons also features a six-page bonus spread about APPRISE, a free counseling program that helps local seniors with their questions about Medicare. Topics covered in APPRISE counseling sessions include Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare Advantage, Medigap coverage, long-term care, prescription drug coverage, and any other questions you may have. Inside the article, you’ll read about Melissa Hey, one of Blair Senior Services, Inc.’s well-trained APPRISE counselors. You’ll also read about one local senior who took advantage of APPRISE and was blown away by the level of service and attention she received. Let’s face it: Medicare is confusing. But with rising healthcare costs and a shifting health insurance landscape, it has never been more important that seniors get all they can out of their Medicare, at a price they can afford. No senior’s health or finances should be put at risk by a complicated Medicare system. That’s why information about APPRISE in the summer edition of Seasons is so timely and important. To sign up for a free APPRISE counseling session, call Blair Senior Services, Inc. at 814 946-1235.

Seasons is available for free at any of Blair Senior Services, Inc.’s senior center locations throughout Blair County. It is also available at select local businesses. Or, you can view a digital copy of Seasons by clicking right here! We know you’ll enjoy it!

Headline Marketing and Communication proudly worked with Blair Senior Services, Inc. to put Seasons together. If you think a custom turn-key magazine could help your company reach new audiences and advertise your business’s products and services, contact us! We’ll be happy to work with you.

Generations Magazine: Second Issue

Posted by on Apr 13, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Generations Magazine: Second Issue

Generations Magazine: Second Issue

Generations Magazine goes beyond conventional magazines with articles that educate, challenge and entertain women from generations z to the greatest generation.

Click here to read the second issue!

Essential Technology Information

Posted by on Apr 13, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Essential Technology Information

Essential Technology Information